GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A purchase of four used Kent County sheriff's vehicles more than doubled the fleet of security vehicles for Grand Rapids Public Schools.
For a cost of $8,000, GRPS purchased the Crown Victoria-model police cars. Kent County Undersheriff Jon Hess said the cars would have otherwise been put in an auction. Putting the district's color scheme on each car cost about $200 a piece.
"We were able to purchase the vehicles relatively cheap for us and [to be] able to put more vehicles out on the road," GRPS Assistant Superintendent Larry Johnson said.
Each car has more than 100,000 miles on it, according to Johnson, but has been well cared for by the sheriff's department.
"When you get a well-maintained vehicle, when you can look at the track record of that vehicle, we know we're getting a quality vehicle although high miles we know it will have a good life span on it." Johnson said.
Johnson went on to say the cars were built as police vehicles, so they could take a lot of abuse.
Johnson said the time had come for the high-mileage cars to leave the department, pointing out that police officers need something incredibly reliable when out on the roads -- but also said the cars are perfect for what the district needs them for.
The district has removed the roll lights on top of the cars and the cages from inside of them, so no one will confuse them with real police cars.
Officers are only interested in people on or around school property, as well as GRPS students.
"We're serious about education. We're serious about transforming GRPS, and we know along the way it's a tough road, but we're in the [long] haul for this, and we're going to do everything we can do from a positive standpoint," Johnson said.
The cars will provide a more visible presence for both parents and students.
"They will be used -- high visibility around the dismissals, around the arrivals of school," Johnson said. "We want our students, we want our families to see the vehicles, to know that we are out there and we are out there with their best interests and we will address issues concerning our students."
The district does plan to buy one new vehicle, an SUV that will cost about $24,000.
GRPS officers will also use the marked vehicles for things like truancy home visits. Up until purchasing the new cars, officers had to use their personal vehicles for those visits.
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